Educational space is yet to see big disruption as it moved along its long cherished slow and gradual process. Gurukul system transformed into classroom, oral tradition gave way to chalk and talk with a tinge of power point presentations, teachers kept on occupying all knowledge space having classified students as predominantly knowledge receivers. However this would not stay long, rather radical changes are knocking on the door and next 5 years is likely to see this coming about in a big way. The changes in higher education space will be even more rapid and fundamental, 5 of those big changes are outlined as follows.
- Focus on learning, not just teaching
Just teaching the class is not good enough. Education needs to ensure that participating students have really learnt from the teaching occurred in the classroom. Students do pay for learning and not just the class contact hours. Institutions have to work on outcome based system of learning and to ensure that ownership of learning is passed on to the students. One-way teaching is the thing of the past, students are to be seen as co-creator and a partner in learning. This calls for ‘experiential learning’ to be adopted as the central theme. Many of us are found asking the question that how is it possible to create experiential learning in a subject like accounts and statistics. For a pre-dominantly quantitative subjects and concept based subjects, it is still possible to create experiential learning. Lab based session using excel can be one example. Meeting an accountant or a statistician and learning from the jobs they are handling can be another example. We have been trained in offering ‘learning by-listening’ to students. There can be ‘learning by-watching’, ‘learning by-doing’ and ‘learning by-experiencing’. Role play is a great way to recapture experiential learning. The least we can do as a teacher is to take our students in the field to see and watch things.
Learning happens when students are involved in the process and allowed to speak, contribute, write, search and discuss. As a teacher, do we account for the class time as to how much of it is allowed to be used by students? One of my colleague has made it into a ‘rule of the thumb’ that at least 50 per cent of the class time will be used by students and he will occupy maximum 50 per cent of the class time. He stops speaking after every 10 minutes and ask students to pitch in and talk. He often tells students to write 2 minutes on-the-spot notes capturing the learning in the class. All such techniques go on to make students an ‘active learner’.
- Deliver relevance, not just content
One big change happening in education space is the incorporation of employability skills into curriculum and this will be emphasised further. Students are going to have more voice and they will demand relevance over content. Learning necessarily have to bring relevance and connect with the real world and society. Industry will be looking for job ready individuals, practical and experiential learning takes precedence over a mere theoretical learning. One of the universal skill will make students employable is ‘technological dexterity’. We cannot afford to ignore this fact any longer. The institutions need to create eco-system where tech-based learning and skilling in emerging teach areas are provided. Similarly, skills such as critical thinking and public speaking cannot be overemphasized when it comes to self-development and employability of students.
Many reports are out there to suggest that employers are not finding enough people with the skills they need to grow their business and enable the economy to recover. This is threatening the global economic recovery and could lead to a “lost generation” of young adults. The phenomenon of curriculum not being changed even over decades is threatening the future of students. Such inability is putting enormous cost on students and parents, both monetary and psychological. In pandemic time, the loss of emotional wellbeing is enormous and as an educational institution we need to help students in overcoming stress, anxiety and loss of wellbeing through listening and offering all possible help. It is a good idea to talk about emotional intelligence and resilience as part of curriculum.
- Remote learning
Learning has put on wings and taken a flight outside the walls of classroom and it is not the only place where learning is taking place. Thanks to high speed internet and development of online learning resources, access to best of learning experience is available on will. The next frontier is individualised instruction for students and customised learning modules. Students are benefiting from interacting remotely with teachers, peers, renowned scholars. A new model of student engagement and learning is on the horizon.
The pandemic situation has forced the institutions to go online. This has opened up new possibilities in a big way where we have the opportunity to list all those things which worked well and should be retained even after classes are returned back to physical. This is true that online teaching is not a substitute of physical classes, but there are many features which online teaching can do more effectively. Do we know what all students liked or disliked about online classes? In a survey conducted at our end, we found several things which students loved about online and they would like it to continue. First and foremost is sessions by guest speakers from abroad and industry. Online made it easier for them appear at will. Any activity which has been constraint by the physical movement, can easily continue online. Another example could be ‘one-to-one’ interaction which is likely to be more focused if done online. Saving on time and cost comes as an additional benefits.
Students ability to choose knowledge and skill based courses online has improved significantly. This keeps them updated and allows learning at will. Employability is greatly enhanced if students keep adding such capsules in their kitty. It may not be a bad idea to allow some credit transfer for such online courses inbuilt into the curriculum. Many faculty would also like to try their hands on covering their courses into online modules to be offered as part of the curriculum. These trends are already in vogue and happening at an increasing pace. Those who would still remain sanguine and aloof may have to carry great risk of becoming obsolete.
- Competency based degree
Spending number of years to obtain a degree is a net cost on the parents, students, and government. If the degree so earned does not add to competency to handle jobs at hand and students remain unemployable, it adds to personal as well as public debt. Traditional education with its teacher-centric, classroom-time table-textbook teaching approach has already added so much to the debt burden. Institutions will have to move away from this and make the degree worth reflecting its desirable competencies. Competencies are invariably captured through learning outcomes. It is important that faculty gets trained in setting good learning outcomes. There is also a need to train faculty in developing rubrics to capture the competency and measure learning outcome.
- Social engagement
Education as a vehicle of social engagement and change is catching up fast, serving multiple purposes. Social internship promotes deep learning, it allows participants act as harbinger of change and reinforces lifelong satisfaction. There is a dire need to create a credit based system where social outreach and impact making engagement with underprivileged section of the society are entrenched into it. In essence, education per se has to move towards relevance, practical, tech-based, holistic, and socially entrenched.